Top 7 Tips for making better videos

I’ve been making video since I was young and have been professionally doing so for over five years now. Over my time making videos I have come across some helpful hints that have helped me in my career. These tips have been written to accommodate for all video makers regardless of their skill set or experience or equipment.

1. Plan your shoot.
Whether if that is writing a script or creating a storyboard, some sort of plan will help you in the long run. Trust me, you will thank yourself if you take the time before a shoot to consider what you are doing and what you will need for a final product.


Photograph by Dylan Hornsby, February 2017 “A storyboard for a short film I shot last year”



2. Ask someone for help.
You’ll be surprised at the generosity of people. A lot of people are afraid to ask for help but dare I say that more people are willing to help hold a camera or even jump in front (we all have that one drama friend).

3. Use a tripod.
Don’t have someone around to help or is that footage a little shaky? Then use a tripod, a cheap tripod sells for around $30 AUD so it is really a small investment to add extra value to your production.


Photography by Dylan Hornsby, August 2015 “A BTS shot from a documentary I made.”

BONUS TIP: if you find yourself walking around a lot filming on your phone it may be worth buy a selfie stick – they’re not just for tourists – it will ensure your arm is in a neutral position and will help you shoot for longer.
Check out this one for a 2-in-1 Selfie Stick x Tripod.


4. Use overlay footage.
You could just shoot a video of yourself talking to camera in one shot or you can use overlay footage (also known as b-roll) to drive your point. Having footage that relates to something that you are talking about can help to add context and/or provide evidence – think about how the news groups do reports.

Furthermore, overlay footage can help you out when you make a mistake or forget a line. I regularly use overlay footage to cover up cuts in my edits, whether if its from the talent making a mistake or if I need to cut down the length of the video because I have rumbled on too much, b-roll will help you out. The video above has plenty of cuts that you would never know about 😉


5. Lighting makes the shot.
I could go into the theory of how “photo” means light and how videos originates from the moving picture but I won’t bore you with film theory here. All you need to know is that by adding some lights a lot of problems can be solved. Having an understanding of how lighting can affect a shot can help add a bit of dimension, focus and/or clarity. Do be wary not to over light them though.

When I was first getting into video work, I found that the above video helped a lot in teaching me some basic concepts in regards to lighting.

6. Use a microphone.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that people are more willing to forgive bad footage than what they are bad audio. That’s why it is important to get quality audio and all it takes an external microphone. The easiest and cheapest option is the lapel mic. All you need to do is clip it to your clothing and plug it in to your device. Most of them will fit into both a phone as well as a video camera or DSLR.

Here’s a link to a Rode Lapel Mic I would recommend for beginners. Note that if you are plugging it into a camera that you will need a $14 adapter.

7. Check your background.
Similar to my discussion about b-roll, your background can provide context and much to my point of lighting can add a layer of dimension to your video. Have a look at the video I made below. That DVD/bookcase along with the post it note cork board and clapboard was not always in that spot and intentional moved the chair so that it could be seen.


Screen grab from As Seen Online retrieved February 2017 “Is my background better than a white wall?”


While it may be a subtle touch, the books help to not only make the background interesting but in terms of context provide viewers with an insight to who I am as a character (or at the very least how I want to be perceived).

Thank you for reading my post. To see more of my work click on the link. Click on the link to read my previous blog post discussing visual ways to communicate to audiences when less than 20% of people are watching with sound. If you liked the post or have your own tips feel free to share or comment on the post.

  1. […] video talks about some of the factors that helped my video succeed and reach over 300K views, my Top 7 Tips for Making Better Videos demonstrates my understandings and knowledge of filmmaking and my post about Videos Falling […]



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